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Image / Editorial

Manchester students’ union votes against clapping in favour of ‘jazz hands’


by Grace McGettigan
03rd Oct 2018
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The Students’ Union at the University of Manchester has voted against clapping at their events in favour of ‘jazz hands’, the informal name given to British sign-language clapping. It comes amid fears the noise from clapping could trigger anxiety in some people.

Whooping and cheering are also being discouraged, with the union hoping it will make social events more inclusive for deaf people, who already use jazz hands as a sign of appreciation.

“We have already received many positive responses from disabled students…”

Sarah Khan,  the union’s liberation and access officer, put the motion forward at the beginning of the academic year. The motion read, “This union notes that since 2015, the National Union of Students (NUS) has been using British sign language (BSL) clapping, as loud noises (including whooping and traditional applause), can pose an issue for students with disabilities such as anxiety or sensory issues.”

After the motion was passed, the union issued a statement which said, “Inclusivity is one of [our] founding principles. We recognise that minority groups are underrepresented in political environments and we are working to address that. This policy is one way of doing so inside our union.

“We have already received many positive responses from disabled students (some of whom are deaf or autistic), who are pleased to feel more included in our democratic process. Some of them plan to attend upcoming democratic events at the SU for the first time, thanks to this policy.”

“Britain is losing its mind…”

However, the news has been met with criticism online. Upon his hearing of the policy, ITV presenter Piers Morgan said, “Britain is losing its mind”. Other people have said it’s unfair on blind people, who might rely on the audible sound of clapping at social events.

When Manchester University was questioned on the issue, their spokesperson told the Telegraph, “We consider this a matter for the Students’ Union.”

Photo by Visit Manchester